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Although heart disease kills more men and women than any other disease in the United States, individuals may prevent premature deaths from heart disease by improving their diet, getting physically active, and lowering their blood pressure and cholesterol. According to Frank M. Sacks, MD, of the American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee, every 1% reduction in blood cholesterol reduces heart disease mortality by 2%.

Consuming 25 grams of soy protein daily has been shown to lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and thus reduce the risk of heart disease. In fact, says Nancy Chapman, MPH, RD, executive director of the Soyfoods Association of North America, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized food marketers to make a health claim on package labels for some 20 years.

"The wide array of soy-based foods provides many options to love your heart," Chapman says. Many soyfoods are low in saturated fat and free of cholesterol, and they are high in complete protein, essential fatty acids, dietary fiber and other beneficial nutrients, she adds. USDA's MyPlate illustrates how fortified soymilk and soymilk products fit into the dairy group as a good source of calcium. Chapman notes that soy-based meat alternatives fit into the protein group as a source of high-quality protein. Soybeans and edamame fit into the vegetable group as a good source of potassium, which helps maintain healthy blood pressure.

"As part of a heart-healthy diet," Chapman says, "soyfoods in a variety of forms can be swapped easily for foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol. She urges Americans to try simple #soyswaps to show your heart some love.

Get a cholesterol-free start to the day with a cup of delicious soy yogurt.

Choose a soy-based veggie burger as a lower-fat alternative.

Swap soy crumbles for other ground meats in chili, spaghetti sauce or a flavorful lean taco.

Top a salad with edamame, a protein-packed young soybean, to add a healthy crunch.

Fill a pita pocket with soy-based deli slices and veggies for a high protein, no-cholesterol lunch.

Grab a soy-based nutrition bar to curb hunger pangs while on the go.

Select chocolate soynut butter in place of chocolate hazelnut spread to double the protein and drop two-thirds of the sugar.

"Soy-based foods can help you cut calories, saturated fat and cholesterol," says Gail Frahm, executive director of the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee. "Our 12,000 soybean farmers help bring healthy soy-based options to your plate. Michigan's soybean farmers encourage you to try a #soyswap today."

Visit www.michigansoybean.org to request a free soyfoods cookbook, available to Michigan residents while supplies last. The cookbook is provided compliments of Michigan's soybean farmers through the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee. Find Michigan's soybean farmers at Facebook.com/MichiganSoybean.

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